Paradise, CA

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storewanderer
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Paradise, CA

Post by storewanderer » November 16th, 2019, 11:33 pm

Paradise, CA was the large CA fire last year that was pretty well covered in the news known as the "Camp Fire."

I had not seen this town since the fire, until today. However, I visited this town numerous times prior to the fire.

Driving into the town on a back road I came across a gas station. Well, it was a gas station. There was a canopy and gas pumps and a sign on the road but the building was gone. A few more minutes up the road I saw the local hospital. Well, what was the local hospital. The building looked undamaged and maintained but was closed and fenced off.

Between those, I was noticing what looked like driveways, but no houses there. Some had RVs or trailers and people were obviously living where their houses were. A number of the vacant lots where houses had been also had "for sale" signs.

The store situation there had Kmart close (nothing happened to it, but it never reopened after the fire), and Safeway and Grocery Outlet completely burnt down. Prevously the Safeway was by far the busiest store in Paradise.

Looking at some stores, went to Save Mart first. They just remodeled their store. Store closes at 8 PM; awfully early, I thought (later I would learn that was actually the latest closing time in town). They had a trickle of customers. The store may have similar traffic to what it had before, but I am not so sure. Deli was very spread out, bakery was also minimal. About half of service meat/seafood case was filled with things like prepack Johnsonville sausage, and other long shelf life items. Prices in the store seemed very high, noticeably higher than usual for the chain. I guess their remodel was symbolic as an effort to show commitment to the town since the previously popular Safeway is gone. But more of the residents have moved on too and I question how viable this location is at this time, especially as it sits in a big 90% vacant shopping center.

Next went to Sav Mor (Holiday) in Magalia a few miles up from Paradise. Also noticed this store closing at 8 PM now. The store was very lightly stocked on perishables and had a trickle of customers similar to the Save Mart. It seemed to have less customers than before.

Back down into Paradise and passed at least 4 other lots with canopy and gas pumps and a sign on the road but no building anymore. Some businesses have cleared their lots. Others have left signs out on the road but there is no building there anymore (Burger King and Jack in the Box, among others). Starbucks looks to have just rebuilt its location and was open. Taco Bell was also open.

Walgreens was open, among many other burnt businesses, and closes at 6 PM daily.

Next went to Holiday, which had a trickle of customers similar to the other two stores. This store has always seemed very slow and I think it had more customers than before. It closes at 7 PM. However one thing that caught me here was they had signs up that said all water in the store is being brought in by truck or tank or something and is being tested for safety. I wondered what that was all about.

Near the Holiday is a CVS; this store closes at 6 PM and the pharmacy is only open Monday-Friday. But it looked pretty normal as far as CVS goes.

Next was Rite Aid. The only open business at what was previously a busy corner (Safeway and Grocery Outlet were across the street and a good sized busy Arco/AM PM was across the street the other way). They had "now open" banners out front. This store also closes at 7 PM but the pharmacy is at least open weekends. The store inside is unchanged from before (has the 10 year old interior) but was very lightly stocked. The ice cream counter was closed and I was told it was due to problems with the water. The customer restroom had a sign posted inside that said "DO NOT DRINK WATER."

So I guess there is something wrong with the water supply, even a year after the fire? After reading this article, I have a better understanding. Tough to see how this town can rebuild given this situation... https://www.sacbee.com/news/local/envir ... 69259.html

Curiously the old gable Safeway which was relocated in the 80's which is now an Ace Hardware was still up and running and did not appear to have been damaged.

This was a very sad situation. It also did not seem like much rebuilding was happening (there was some... but it sure wasn't like Joplin after the natural disaster there a number of years ago where it seemed to be a full court press rebuilding effort). Given the water situation... probably is not helping.

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Re: Paradise, CA

Post by Alpha8472 » November 17th, 2019, 12:25 am

Many insurance companies have not given people enough money to rebuild. The cost of rebuilding is too much and they cannot sell the land. No one wants to buy land in a desolate area. People have given up and left. The few who cannot afford to leave are living in their cars or in trailers. The area is dead, and there is not much hope that it will ever be livable again.

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Re: Paradise, CA

Post by storewanderer » November 17th, 2019, 6:52 pm

Alpha8472 wrote:
November 17th, 2019, 12:25 am
Many insurance companies have not given people enough money to rebuild. The cost of rebuilding is too much and they cannot sell the land. No one wants to buy land in a desolate area. People have given up and left. The few who cannot afford to leave are living in their cars or in trailers. The area is dead, and there is not much hope that it will ever be livable again.
Beyond the insurance I also can imagine it is quite hard to get necessary manpower to do a wide scale rebuild, given the labor shortages in various trades.

I am wondering how many people who lost their homes just moved to Chico or Oroville.

Very sad situation. Will be interesting to see what these store chains do in the future. Operating on reduced hours is not something that you usually see. But neither is this situation something that you usually see.

I forgot one store: Rite Aid Magalia. It looks normal and it is open until 9 PM. Pharmacy hours are shorter.

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Re: Paradise, CA

Post by Bagels » November 26th, 2019, 2:03 am

This was a very interesting read! Thanks for posting this!

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Re: Paradise, CA

Post by Alpha8472 » November 26th, 2019, 12:00 pm

PG&E filed for bankruptcy. That means that the new claims from the new fires this year during bankruptcy must be paid first. The people from Paradise will be paid after the people from the recent fires get paid. It seems unfair, but it has to do with the legal terms of the bankruptcy. The more people who file claims, the less money there is for those people leftover. The people from Paradise will get very little money.

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Re: Paradise, CA

Post by klkla » November 26th, 2019, 3:25 pm

storewanderer wrote:
November 17th, 2019, 6:52 pm
Beyond the insurance I also can imagine it is quite hard to get necessary manpower to do a wide scale rebuild, given the labor shortages in various trades.

I am wondering how many people who lost their homes just moved to Chico or Oroville.
I listened to an interview with the mayor of Paradise on NPR and she mentioned that the experience with insurance companies varied widely and that some people got screwed but most did OK. The delay in rebuilding has been caused because it takes a long time to clear toxic elements caused by the construction debris from the original building materials and contents of peoples homes.

But she also mentioned a lot of people were low income renters and a lot of those people have moved to Chico.

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